Connor McMichael of the London Knights. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images
The OHL has been through another month of solid performances and top teams winning games as the London Knights and Ottawa 67’s fight for the top spot in the league after securing a playoff spot alongside Saginaw, Niagara, Sault Ste. Marie, Oshawa, Sudbury and Guelph. This month I’ll talk about the top 2019 NHL draft-eligible prospects in the OHL and where we can expect them to fall in the draft come June.
C, Connor McMichael – London Knights
Connor McMichael is a six foot tall, goalscoring center who GMs could and may fall in love with. McMichael leads the top tier London Knights in points and drives the play on a consistent basis, reminding me of Auston Matthews because he loves to rove around the hash marks and unleash his shot. One of his biggest assets is how the puck always seems to find his stick. He has a knack for knowing how to be in the right place at the right time which is an elite skill that is found in many top players at the NHL level. I can see an NHL team taking McMichael right after the top 10 as the top group of centers are taken (Jack Hughes, Trevor Zegras, Alex Turcotte, Kirby Dach, Dylan Cozens).
Projection: 1st Round, 10-15th Overall
LD, Thomas Harley – Mississauga Steelheads
The silky smooth left-handed defenseman, Harley carries the ‘new age defenseman’ tag as his two-way style has been on full display this year, playing solid defense and putting up over 50 points with more of the season to come. He spreads the puck so well with his vision and skating skill that you could project him as a top line defenseman in the future if he develops to his full potential. I can see a team picking him up earlier than expected and he should fall in the defensive group just behind Bowen Byram and Victor Soderstrom.
Projection: 1st Round, 12-18th Overall
LW, Arthur Kaliyev – Hamilton Bulldogs
Arthur Kaliyev wins the award for the most polarizing prospect award in the draft class this year. In the past players like Ryan Merkley, Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony DeAngelo could be classed alongside Kaliyev with his wide range of opinions. A player I compare Kaliyev to is Vancouver Canucks and Russian winger Nikolay Goldobin. He has the undeniable skill, and the draft year numbers in comparison are shockingly similar. Goldobin registered 94 points in 67 games with 21 PIM and a negative plus-minus with Sarnia, while Kaliyev has 93 points in 60 games with 16 PIM and negative plus-minus. Teams will love the potential that the sniper drips with, but will they be willing to take him high? I’m going to guess not.
Projection: 1st Round, 15-30th Overall
C, Ryan Suzuki – Barrie Colts
Suzuki started off the year at a rapid pace of nearly 3 PPG, but as the season went on, the Colts fell near the basement of the standings and Suzuki’s production fell off to just over a point a game where he sits now. The brother of Nick Suzuki, Ryan plays a very smart game that relies on his hockey IQ and fantastic passing abilities to create plays, using his soft hands to create space for himself and teammates. Ryan struggles a little with the physical aspect of the game but can evade contact and has the skill to be a second line center at the NHL level.
Projection: 1st Round, 15-20nd Overall
C/LW, Nicholas Robertson – Peterborough Petes
Nicholas is a diminutive forward at 5’10, but he always seems to find a way to work through it. He uses his blazing speed and creative hands to find lanes for his quick release and can mix it up with a pass from time to time, setting up teammates as well. After a slow start due to injuries, Robertson is currently on fire and is carrying the offense of the Petes, leading them in points while having played 15 games less than the rest of the team and being one of the youngest players in the draft class, only barely eligible by four days. A team may fall in love and reach for Robertson, but it’s most likely he goes at the back end of the first round.
Projection: 1st Round, 22-30th Overall
C, Philip Tomasino – Niagara IceDogs
Tomasino has been a consistent contributor to one of the league’s best Niagara IceDogs, producing around a PPG pace the entire season. Bringing a high-tempo play style, Tomasino loves to find open areas and will often find them and has been capable of running a line with his dynamic offensive style. Niagara has a very loaded offensive core with overagers and top talent, so he may be feeding off of that a little, but most of his offense is self-sustained. Tomasino may be a first-round pick, but could also slip down into the second round.
Projection: 1st/2nd Round, 27-35th Overall